Google's Head of Webspam Matt Cutts recently posted a webmaster help video covering the legitimacy of guest posting. It provided insights into what Google sees as paid links in guest posts and what the search engine recognises as genuine guest blog campaigns to increase organic traffic.
One of the main points Cutts stressed was topic relevancy when it came to guest blogs. He said: Usually there is a pretty clear distinction between an occasional press blog versus someone who's doing a large scale paid link kind of thing.
If you're paying for links, it's more likely that it's an off-topic or an irrelevant blog post that doesn't really match the subject of the blog itself. It's more likely you will see keyword-rich anchor text and that sort of thing.
Fairly simple really. If you are a sports blog it might look a bit strange if you started doing a sequence of price comparison blogs on technical products. He also stated points familiar to most guest bloggers, such as producing content in moderation as opposed to large amounts of posts appearing on your site over a few days.
Purpose of Guest Posting and what can be Achieved
There is no doubting that many guest bloggers do it to obtain links to their websites but it is important to remember that guest blogging is not all about link building. When carried out properly on a relevant informative topic it will improve your credibility and your customer interaction.
If you produce a high quality guest post, which is published by a leading website in your area of expertise there is a good chance that it will receive high levels of social shares and comments. Therefore when you approach sites you would like to blog on, think of their audience as you should be trying to make sure they enjoy it, learn something from it and pass it on to others.
Another consideration, which sounds obvious, is getting people to read your post. Lets put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. If you have accepted a guest blog from someone else for your site you want your audience to interact with it. If the post is really strong people will read the whole thing and stay on your site for longer. Taking this further you can use Google Analytics to track the average time visitors are spending on your site and you can then drill down to specific pages.
When you are approaching target sites for a guest post idea you want to be sure that it is worth producing your content for. Check the sites domain authority and page rank to see if they meet your criteria. Then take the time to look at recent posts, which will let you establish the kind of audience you are blogging for as well as how many social shares the other posts are averaging. You can also use the open site explorer tool from Moz to check the sites link profile. If the proposed site you want to blog for is receiving a host of spammy links you will know to move onto a different site.
Guest Posting vs other Content Streams
How does a well-constructed guest post compare to other streams of content? Lets take infographics for example. A detailed and informative infographic is definitely a good source of content and ideally it will be shared on sites that give it a unique introductory copy. Another big benefit of producing infographic is they are easy to share. If you have an embed code people can easily upload the content to their sites. However guest posts are also widely shared. You only have to go onto a respected SEO site like Search Engine Land and have a look at how many social shares those guest posts are achieving.
The most beneficial advantage of guest posting over other types of content is audience engagement. Its your chance as an author to capture the interest of readers with informative and interesting facts, tips and takeaways. If your content is strong and widely accessible your stock will rise with Google's authorship ranking, so make sure your rel=author is all up to date on your Google+ profile.
The main point Matt Cutts has stressed is relevancy of content. What he is saying is that Google will reward guest authors that provide relevant information and results to an appropriate audience. Diversifying your anchor text will also keep you in Google's good books. Don't always put your keyword/s in your author bio. If you are a regular guest blogger add some of your links in the body of the content from time to time and ensure that it is natural. Keep interaction high with your audience and if you have your own site/blog keep it updated with other guest bloggers relevant content.